Republicans Could Tap Some New Lawmakers Saturday
Salt Lake Tribune
by Lee Davidson
April 13, 2012
Delegates to Republican conventions Saturday in Utah and Salt Lake counties could do something unusual: not only pick their party nominees, but also the final winners in five legislative races.
That’s because no Democrat or third-party candidate filed in those races, so the GOP nominee will be the winner. It gives delegates extra power in possibly choosing winners before voters have a direct say. However, if no candidate in those races wins 60 percent of delegate votes, the top two candidates will face off in a June primary election.
Utah County Republican Convention
Where » Salem Hills High School, 150 Skyhawk Blvd., Salem
When » 10:30 a.m.
Legislative races in which delegates could choose final winners this weekend include four where GOP incumbents face in-party challengers: Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem; Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan; Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan; and Rep. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton. All are in heavily Republican areas, and no Democrats bothered to file.
The situation is the same in a five-candidate race for an open seat in a combined, redrawn district now represented by Reps. Steve Sandstrom, R-Orem, and Chris Herrod, R-Provo. Sandstrom is running for the U.S. House and Herrod is running for the U.S. Senate.
Senate District 14 » The most interesting race may be between Valentine and Rep. Craig Frank, R-Pleasant Grove. It somewhat mirrors Utah’s U.S. Senate race — with veteran senators (Orrin Hatch and Valentine) arguing they have amassed power that can help their constituents while challengers say the incumbents have served long enough.
Valentine passed a bill that helped Frank return to the House earlier this year — only to see Frank file to run against him.
Frank resigned from the House in 2011 when he discovered that his home, then in Cedar Hills, was actually outside the district he represented. Valentine passed a bill to add all of Cedar Hills back to the district where residents thought they had belonged all along. It made Frank eligible to be reappointed to his old seat in January after Rep. Holly Richardson resigned.
"Don’t remind me," Valentine said. "He wouldn’t be sitting there today if it weren’t for me."
Valentine said the two agree on many things, leaving "a pretty small area of disagreement. The issue that seems to be coming up is one saying that Valentine has been there 14 years in the Senate, and it’s time to move over and let someone else have a shot." But he said he has power to get things done in the Senate "that a newcomer just cannot do."
Meanwhile, Frank said he respects Valentine, but claims he is more focused than the senator "on smaller government, lower taxes and passing fewer laws because fewer laws mean less encroachment."
Financial disclosure forms show Valentine has raised 31 times more money this cycle than Frank — about $155,000 to $5,000. Valentine also outspent Frank by $43,000 to $2,300.
Senate District 10 » Another lively race is in South Jordan, between Osmond, a newly appointed senator, and former South Jordan City Council member Aleta Taylor. Osmond says he thinks it is possible for him to capture 60 percent of the vote, but says Taylor has been working hard and many delegates are still undecided.
Taylor says she is stressing that she has lived in the community for decades and understands it — and contends that Osmond is less familiar with it because he moved there from California six years ago. Osmond says he knows the community well, cares deeply about it and bases his business there.
Financial disclosure forms show Osmond has raised $21,900 to Taylor’s $1,700, and he has outspent her by $9,500 to $1,800.
Both say they are focusing on issues including education, growth, taxes and transportation. "The residents are my only special-interest group. I’m a real grass-roots candidate," Taylor said.
White said he is finding a candidate’s experience in office is viewed as a plus by delegates this year — a far cry from two years ago when "incumbency was a death knell." In that tea party-fueled election year, White’s county commission re-election bid was derailed at the GOP convention.
Oldroyd similarly is trying to make experience part of his campaign, saying he has raised money for many candidates and worked with legislators. Because of the crowded field, candidates in the race said they don’t know if anyone can snag the 60 percent of votes needed to secure the nomination without a primary.
Stratton has raised the most money: $11,500. He is followed by Murray, who has collected $5,000; White, $4,400; Oldroyd, $4,200; and Hartvigsen, $28.
House District 42 » In West Jordan, three-term incumbent Bird is facing John Scott. The challenger says he has had difficulty getting many delegates to attend his events as he has promoted a message of pushing back against federal government infringement on personal liberties. Bird said he has had good crowds as he talks about transportation and education.
House District 41 » In southwest Salt Lake County in a district formerly represented by current congressional candidate Carl Wimmer, newly appointed McCay is facing Realtor Jason Bible. Both McCay and Bible say education is the big issue.
Bible is critical of the number of votes missed by McCay in the recent legislative session.
For his part, McCay said he has been working hard to meet with delegates, and is confident he will survive the convention and perhaps clinch the nomination there.
McCay has outraised Bible $3,500 to $1,400, and outspent him by $1,800 to $100.
Although the eventual GOP nominees in those five races will be lucky enough not to face challengers from other parties, four other Republicans were even more fortunate — unopposed even in their own party and coasting to election.
Those lucky four are Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan; Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain; Rep. Dean Sanpei, R-Provo; and newcomer David Lifferth, an Eagle Mountain Republican who soon will represent the newly drawn House District 2.